SCHOOL BEAT When do kids learn to think for themselves? by DOUG HOOGERLAND, Principal Roguewood Elementary School When is it really that kids learn to think? Not just the academic variety either, but to actually think for themselves? And how do we provide opportunities for our children to do just that: think for themselves? Don’t get me wrong, we have some extremely bright kids in our area, kids who are among the smartest in the state. We have hundreds of students who are on the honor roll, who are scoring really well on the MEAP and the ACT, and who are earning scholarships to prestigious colleges and universities around the country, but are they really learning how to think for themselves? In many ways, I know I was pretty lucky growing up despite some major challenges. My parents encouraged me to participate in extracurricular activities. When I wasn’t participating in sports or band or 4H or delivering the local newspaper on my bike, I had lots of free time. If my parents had not allowed the concept of boredom in my childhood, who knows how I would have turned out?! Did you catch that? We actually embraced the concept of boredom! Accepting the fact that it was okay to be “bored,” I learned on my own to find something to do; I discovered amazing things. I imagined, I invented, and I played. I thought for myself. My parents weren’t busy planning “play dates” or organizing games for my siblings and me and the neighborhood kids or playing games all that often with me for that matter. My mom was my 4H leader, but after that she made me go outside to play. Certainly I had to follow the rules and “behave,” but I also had to come up with my own plan for occupying my time or “playing.” Perhaps that was one of the best things my parents, however unintentionally, did for me. I learned how to think for myself. I’m certainly not the smartest person, but I’m very confident that placed in a challenging situation or confronted with a difficult problem, I can think for myself and react appropriately to most situations. By education and profession, I am an elementary educator, but at home […]
School Beat A Mother’s Day Dedication by DOUG HOOGERLAND, Principal Crestwood Elementary School There are some pretty demanding careers out there these days, and some of them pay big bucks. They require years of education and special licenses. When we think of some of the most specialized or top-paying jobs, we might consider a CEO of a large company, a neurosurgeon, or a Supreme Court judge. Some of us wouldn’t trade what we do for the difficulty of what they do. But when I think about the most challenging, demanding, and often thankless job out there, it is the unpaid job of a mom caregiver to a child. Yes, a mom does choose that unpaid role, whether as a biological mom, an adoptive mom, a step-mom, a foster mom, or a care-giving relative. But that certainly doesn’t make it an easy role, and it is often one for which there is little in the way of a direct “thank you.” It is a job that will daily throw obstacles and new experiences at you with the implicit expectation that you moms will know what to do and you will do it. You are responsible for your own training in this area; no one will check up to see if you’ve renewed your “mom” certificate. But, still, you do your best with what you know and what you have. Moms amaze me every day with what they are innately capable of. I do consider myself a pretty good dad, but it has been pointed out to me (nicely) that I am NOT a good mom. And it’s true. I can roughhouse, tease, joke, go on bike rides, play games and I will usually remember to do whatever I write down in my planner to do. But moms? They remember all of that in addition to things like remembering to feed the kids (before they are beyond starving!), putting on sunscreen (before they burn!), brushing teeth (before noon), clean sheets (regularly!), bed time (before they are too cranky to go to bed!), homework, and all of the other little unpredictables that happen each day. In most cases, who do kids want when they are sick? Who do they go to for a bandage even when there is […]
Enjoy the moment by DOUG HOOGERLAND Principal, Crestwood Elementary School Last week I received approximately 400 e-mail messages. I am still trying to get back to everyone. It’s respectful-right?-to get back to someone immediately after a call or message. This is the digital age, and with the digital comes the instant. No more “pony express” for us! We expect Internet service in milliseconds, text message responses in less than 30 seconds, and e-mail responses within the day, if not the hour. We have checklists, to-do lists, sticky notes and Blackberries all helping us keep track of getting it all done, finished, wrapped up. It’s all about the finished product. Call me back. Text me now. Answer your phone because I do not leave messages and I need to talk to you NOW! “Now” is the message we get every day. We are failures if we postpone or procrastinate. But what about being here now? What moments are we missing in our real lives, you know, the parts that don’t have buttons or touch screens, the parts of our lives who greet us after a long day or call us to ask us to go on a field trip with their class; the pieces of our day who look into our eyes and read what they see there? What about the people and the moments with them that might never happen if we don’t postpone that e-mail response, or procrastinate a bit out in the back yard? One of my recent favorite song lyrics goes likes this, “I have been running so sweaty my whole life, urgent for the finish line, and I have been missing the rapture this whole time of being forever incomplete.” Maybe there is something to that. Perhaps we need to stop running so hard and stand still for a few moments while we let the world stop spinning around us and just BE HERE NOW.